Saying goodbye to Hawaii is not an easy thing to do. Our week of vacationing on Oahu had passed quickly and the day of our departure was at hand. My husband and I decided to spend the last few hours sitting at a quiet café and recounting our amazing anniversary celebration.
He spoke first. He had two favorites. He loved cruising the island in the Mustang convertible that we had rented, enjoying the beauty of the ocean and mountains, and feeling the fresh breeze in his hair and face. He reveled in every second of his foot-loose-and-fancy-free experience.
Secondly, he loved the Aloha Bowl football game. We had been surprised to discover that the pro-bowl was being held the very same week we were on the Island, and we had been able to procure tickets to the game. Dennis was in football paradise in the middle of a tropical paradise. He drank in every moment of his what-could-be-better-than-this event.
I, likewise, had two favorites. Our hotel room had a balcony that overlooked Waikiki Beach. I loved to sit outside, watch the waves hit the shore, and see the sunrise and sunset. The ambiance of the surroundings created a totally surreal environment as I drank in this too-good-to-be-true milieu.
Next on my top two list was the North Shore. All the beaches on the island were gorgeous. All the sights and sounds of the ocean surf breaking upon the coastline were awe-inspiring. However, the North Shore is the section where the biggest waves can be seen. The morning we drove northward, we were surprised to discover that the pro-surfing championship was being held on the Pipeline. Pro-bowl, pro-surfing, was a pattern emerging? We surveyed the road side to find a parking place, stepped over spectators seated upon the sand to find an open spot to throw down a towel, and positioned ourselves to find a good view of the tournament.
The waves were cresting around 20 feet, and the best of the best could be seen sitting upon their boards several hundred feet off shore waiting to catch a wave. Wave after wave arose, swelled, crested, spewed out salty spray, and crashed on the shore in front of us. The roar was deafening. The power of the pounding surf sent forth a vibration that reverberated inside my being, like the fireworks booming on the Fourth of July. This was definitely one of those nothing-can-compare moments.
I pulled out my camera to capture the moment. But — the moment was too big. The little frame could not reveal the gigantic size of the wave. The still shot could not convey the moving waters. The silent photograph could not capture the rumble. I played with the settings. I zoomed in for a close up and out for a panoramic view. I narrowed the lens for less light and opened it for more. Nothing I did could communicate the story that the ocean was speaking that day.
Psalms 19 states that God communicates with man through his creation. Nature speaks all day and all night and in every language so that all people in all eras of time can 'hear' the story of God through the 'voice' of his creation. As I beheld the surf, it dawned upon me that I was at another pro-contest. This time the rivals were not man against man. This competition was between the handiwork of God and the works of man's hands. I had seen much man-generated splendor in Hawaii, but nothing compared to the ocean's glory.
Creation's voice — the ocean's voice — roared the sound of a champion and bellowed the voice of a victor. It claimed dominion as far as the eye could see. It testified to competency as the waves skillfully rolled into the shore. It asserted power as each swell pounded the sand below. In the pro-creators contest, man was out of his league. The game was not on; it was over. Nothing man-made could compete with God's majestic masterpiece of creation.
Saying goodbye to Hawaii is not an easy thing to do. However, as my husband and I departed the island, we smiled at one another and both determined that this anniversary was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime celebration. We also agreed that in the contest of vacation spots, Hawaii wins.
Patti Amsden is co-pastor at Son-Life Church in Collinsville.